Sunday, 4 March 2012

ASM and the help they offered the Gardener

The Gardener I introduced you to on 7th Feb has continued to come to my friend, Cathy’s, home to work in her garden once a week for the last month.

His medical needs became the main area of concern as she noticed that he became very tired each afternoon and worked much more slowly.



On the first day he had complained of pain in his back and Cathy, a nurse, diagnosed shingles. She asked him to go to the clinic at the School of Health at Africa School of Missions (ASM) in two days’ time. She would be teaching the student nurses there and would therefore be at the clinic while he was there. He was seen for an initial assessment by an auxiliary nurse and was then seen for a long consultation by a senior nurse. It was clear that, in addition to shingles, he had significant mental health needs and was suffering from depression.



His isolation from his family, his unemployment, poor sleep, poor food and ill health would have contributed to this.

Our gardener did not have to pay for this medical help as it was clear that he had no money

He was taken by ambulance to the nearest government hospital about 40km away where he was given medication for the shingles and the depression and was sent away. He had to hitch-hike back to his home because he had no money for a taxi.



Nursing staff at ASM clinic offered him a follow-up appointment to make sure that he understood how to take the medication he had received from the hospital. They did not need to do this but were very concerned about his mental health and were surprised to hear that he had not been admitted to the government hospital until his mood stabilised. They also arranged for a local pastor to contact him to offer support and gave him Christian literature to read.



The following week when he arrived for work in the garden, he complained of a sore mouth and had a swollen face. Cathy took him to the clinic at ASM again and he was prescribed antibiotics for a dental abcess. The nurses recommended that he should go to the government dental clinic the following week once the infection was under control in order to have teeth removed. When he arrived for work the third time he had had two extractions and was no longer in any pain.



Cathy still does not know much about the gardener. Why has his wife left him and why is he unemployed? Does he have a problem with alcohol abuse? Is he dishonest? He does seem calmer now and is less demanding; he was asking for clothes for himself and his family and he was phoning Cathy frequently. Perhaps he is feeling better; maybe he is sleeping well because of the pain relief. Perhaps he feels less desperate and a little more confident. Maybe he knows now that there are a few people at ASM who care about him as a person. They will not just send him away with a bottle of pills. Instead they listen to him and pray for his wellbeing, both spiritually and financially while trying to meet his medical needs. Cathy’s hope and prayer for him is that he will get to know Jesus.



He will have some good news next week because he will be offered a three month trial for another gardening job for an additional two days’ a week on Cathy’s recommendation.



If he works hard and is honest and trustworthy he should keep the job beyond the three months’ trial and should begin to earn enough money to support his family. How this young man uses this opportunity to change his situation is now up to him. I hope he can make the most of the chance he has been given.

We see so many young men waiting in groups at the side of the road for a day’s casual labour. It is an uncertain way to live and almost impossible to feed a family that way. I hope our gardener doesn’t return to that way of life.



Rose